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Profile: Thomas W. Simpson (Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge)
  1. Thomas W. Simpson (2013). Trustworthiness and Moral Character. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (3):543-557.
    Why are people trustworthy? I argue for two theses. First, we cannot explain many socially important forms of trustworthiness solely in terms of the instrumentally rational seeking of one’s interests, in response to external sanctions or rewards. A richer psychology is required. So, second, possession of moral character is a plausible explanation of some socially important instances when people are trustworthy. I defend this conclusion against the influential account of trust as ‘encapsulated interest’, given by Russell Hardin, on which most (...)
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  2. Thomas W. Simpson (2012). Evaluating Google as an Epistemic Tool. Metaphilosophy 43 (4):426-445.
    This article develops a social epistemological analysis of Web-based search engines, addressing the following questions. First, what epistemic functions do search engines perform? Second, what dimensions of assessment are appropriate for the epistemic evaluation of search engines? Third, how well do current search engines perform on these? The article explains why they fulfil the role of a surrogate expert, and proposes three ways of assessing their utility as an epistemic tool—timeliness, authority prioritisation, and objectivity. “Personalisation” is a current trend in (...)
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  3. Thomas W. Simpson (2012). Testimony and Sincerity. Ratio 25 (1):79-92.
    Is there a justified presumption that a speaker is testifying sincerely? Anti-reductionism about testimony claims that there is, absent reasons to the contrary. Yet why believe this, given the actuality and prevalence of lies and deception? I examine one argument that may be appropriated to meet this challenge, David Lewis's claim that truthfulness is a convention. I argue that it fails, and that the supposition that there is a presumption of sincerity remains unsupported. The failure of Lewis's argument is instructive, (...)
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  4. Thomas W. Simpson (2012). What Is Trust? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93 (4):550-569.
    Trust is difficult to define. Instead of doing so, I propose that the best way to understand the concept is through a genealogical account. I show how a root notion of trust arises out of some basic features of what it is for humans to live socially, in which we rely on others to act cooperatively. I explore how this concept acquires resonances of hope and threat, and how we analogically apply this in related but different contexts. The genealogical account (...)
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  5. Thomas W. Simpson (2011). E-Trust and Reputation. Ethics and Information Technology 13 (1):29-38.
    Trust online can be a hazardous affair; many are trustworthy, but some people use the anonymity of the web to behave very badly indeed. So how can we improve the quality of evidence for trustworthiness provided online? I focus on one of the devices we use to secure others’ trustworthiness: tracking past conduct through online reputation systems. Yet existing reputation systems face problems. I analyse these, and in the light of this develop some principles for system design, towards overcoming these (...)
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